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Albania Notes – An Update

By doina — last modified Oct 05, 2006 09:40 AM

Published: 2006-10-05 09:40:34
Countries: Albania

August 2006, By Ray Holland SY OzSea, Sydney

During August 2006 we made passage down the coast of Albania over a 6 day period. Before starting this passage we consulted noonsite.com and found there the notes by Doug and Judy Decker of LIMERENCE which were very useful. This note is to supply an update and supplimentary information on two additional ports, Vlore and Sarande.

General

We found the people to be very friendly and helpful and we can generally confirm the observations made by Limerence.

Formalities

We too used an agent to enter Albania at Durres, the same agent as used by Limerence.

At entry the agent holds the ship’s documents until departure time when he then negotiates a Port Captain Clearance document which must be handed to the Port Captain of the next port upon arrival. This is the only proof you will have that you entered the country correctly and have paid the appropriate fees, don’t lose it. When you leave the port you must get another Clearance paper to hand to the subsequent Port Captain on arrival. This has particular relevance for Vlore, see below.

It appears that the Port Authorities (Captain and Police) now insist that an agent is used for entry/exit. We witnessed 3 yachts arriving in Durres who were told by the Port Captain that they must use an agent. Our agent happened to be there and offered his services however the Captain said he had other agents available if they did not want to use him. In Sarande the Port Captain also made it clear he expected us to have an agent which caused no difficulty as we had already contacted one.

Ports of Call

We called at Durres, Vlore and Sarande. These are all commercial ports with Durres the largest by far. None of the ports has facilities for pleasure craft or visiting yachts so they are handled as best they can amongst the commercial shipping. In each port the Port Control radio operator spoke English as the common language for foreign vessels but Italian was also used. Each port required 2 or 3 copies of our crew list so come prepared as they usually don’t have a working photo-copier. Copies of the Ship’s Registration Papers can help too.

Durres

Call the Port Captain (Port Control) on their normal working channel of VHF15 or use VHF16. They will advise you where you can moor. Protection is very good but strong Sth winds may cause a surge to the inner basin. It is preferable to have prior contact with an agent who can be there when you berth to handle the paperwork and deal with any problems. We had to move 2 times in 2 days as the need for quay space changed with shipping traffic. With Police and other authorities always present we felt our boat was very safe.

The port is 100m walk to the town where there are mini-markets, vegetable/produce stalls and shops for most requirements. There are café’s nearby for coffee and snacks but not many restaurants were evident. In the evening the main street is cordoned off for pedestrian traffic only and the town was very animated as families went about their evening stroll and fun by the seaside.

We used Mr. Lambi Papa, the same agent as Limerence and found him to be very efficient and obliging. He is a retired seaman and ferry captain so knows the people and formalities of the port intimately. I e-mailed him 2-3 days ahead of the expected arrival then phoned him on the day we made the passage to advise our ETA (see Noonsite Durres page for contact details).

Vlore

Call the Port Captain on their working channel of VHF 12 or use VHF16 to contact. They will direct you to a berthing point and request you come to their office on-shore located between the two jetties to check-in. This port is small in comparison to Durres but is an import regional terminal for ferries to/from Italy. It consists of two concrete jetties extending from the shore in an approximate Nth/Sth alignment with an open area between of approximately 200m. It is therefore open to any weather which has some Sth in it.

The afternoon we arrived there was a 25kn Sth wind with 50-75cm swell running into the port. With some difficulty and the help of 3 guys fishing on the jetty we moored/bounced alongside. I was relieved to find that two officials arrived soon after, one from the Port Captain and the other from the Police. They took my Durres Clearance form, 2 crew lists and noted details from the Registration papers then told us to go to the Marina at the Sth end of the bay for overnight and provided us with Lat/Long co-ordinates. They instructed us to return to the port to check-out before we left the area then helped us cast off.

The Orikum Marina at the Sth of the bay is part of a new apartment/hotel complex which is still not fully complete but is operational. The building has two accommodation sections of 2 levels with “castellated” towers at the ends and a single level WC/shower facility between them which is easily identified when approaching the co-ordinates position. There is a green flashing light on a pole at the head of the low breakwater and a red flashing light on a red buoy to mark the port side channel limit. Mooring lines to pontoons are provided as are electricity and water. The charge per night was Eu22.

There are restaurants on the beach within walking distance but the small township where bread, produce and mini-markets are found is about 3km away. However the marina manager, Luan, was kind enough to drive us there.

We returned to the port when leaving, this time in calm weather. When attending the Port Captains office I was asked for the Durres Clearance certificate. This occurred due to my inability to explain in Albanian language to the duty officer that we had arrived 2 days before and already checked-in. At his time, when the situation was getting difficult I realised how important it is to have the Clearance certificate as I had no other proof of entry or payment of fees. Happily the officer who dealt with us on arrival appeared and remembered me and pointed the other officer to the correct entry into their journals which confirmed they had received the Clearance certificate.

During this process they asked if I had an agent and subsequent conversations between officers indicated that they preferred to be dealing with an agent rather than the boat owner. However I was soon provided with the Clearance certificate and told to wait for Police to arrive on board my boat for their clearance. As it happened there were two ferries loading cars and passengers through a very thorough Police check process and it took some time and pushing on my part to get their attention to give us clearance. Once I had their attention it was soon finished and we were able to leave.

Although I did not use an agent, Lambi Papa gave me the name of a colleague who could help. Try Vladimir on +355 6923 75078.

Sarande

Call the Port Captain on VHF 11 or VHF 16. They will direct you to a berth if available. As this is a small commercial port and has daily ferry and hydrofoil services to Corfu in the season, overnight mooring will be subject to availability. The port gives good shelter to most weather from the NW around to E but is open to the Sth. During our stay there was a F7-8 NW blowing which caused some swell to rebound into the port so multiple fenders and lines are suggested.

We approached Sarande from the Nth in the evening and found that the light on the headland of Kepi I Qefalit was not operating nor was the light on the shoal marker on the port side of the bay of Sarande town. However, the city lights help identify ships at anchorage and the new commercial quay on the west side of the bay was well lit. A short while after making contact with the Port Captain he appeared on the quay and waved us in to moor alongside. He was joined by the Police and they took my Clearance certificate, 2 copies of the Crew List and copied details of registration. They asked about an agent and I gave him the name of the agent I had already contacted Arquile Sotiri (see Noonsite Saranda page for contact details). They were happy with this but requested that I get the agent to contact them first thing in the morning.

Sarande is a very popular holiday location for Albanians and a destination for tourists from Corfu, many who come by day trip ferries and travel Sth to the Roman ruins of Butrint. A very interesting archaeological site.

Shops, cafes and produce markets are 100-200m walk away. The esplanade around the bay is extremely popular at night and the centre of family activity.

Other

We did not attempt to free anchor at any time. There is a very appealing enclosed bay 15nm Nth of Sarande named “Palermo” but this is restricted due to its military use. I know of an Italian yacht which was moved on one night when they attempted to use it for an overnight anchorage.

I was told by Lambi Papa that Himare, 3nm Nth of Palermo is a very pleasant day anchorage or overnight in settled weather. It is one of the few partially protected bays along the coast where it is shallow enough to consider anchoring.

Conclusion

An interesting and safe passage along the coast of a country which for many years has been considered “out of bounds” and/or un-safe. Given that the country is still very poor in places and still developing its infrastructure and coming to grips with a market economy, the investment in agent’s services was well spent. I get the impression that the port authorities are now insisting on the use of agents as they do not have the facilities to deal with the increasing number of private yachts and motor cruisers which are now making passage along their coast.

September 06

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